Buenos Aires Puts Its Spin on Pizza
Two inches thick, well seasoned, and with plenty of onions and cheese, fugazza and fugazetta in the Argentine city are what pizza restaurants are about.
Pizza is one of the world’s favourite foods, and today you can find traditional wood-fired Neapolitan “pies” in nearly every corner of the globe. But only a handful of places are famous for radically distinct regional styles—most notably Chicago, with its deep dish, St. Louis with its cracker crust, and Buenos Aires, home to a rich Italian tradition and the most unusual pizza of all.
Argentina’s capital has a rash of recent “gourmet” Neapolitan places, but true Buenos Aires pizza bears almost no resemblance to the thin-crust, tomato-sauce-laden version. Instead, it features a thick, bready crust topped with onions—lots of onions. Called fugazza, it is basically a focaccia under a mound of sliced onions, both well seasoned, with just a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. About two inches thick, it is served with an assortment of dried jarred spices and eaten with a knife and fork.
Stuff oozy mozzarella cheese under the onions—a lot of it—and you have fugazetta (sometimes called fugazza con queso). While plenty of more internationally standard pizzas are available in the city, with red sauce and endless topping options, these two classics constitute true Buenos Aires-style pizza, which you will not find anyplace else. They have reportedly even earned governmental designation as national culinary treasures. You can add toppings to your fugazetta, especially ham, but it is most often eaten plain.
The other unique twist on pizza tradition is faina, an unadorned yellow flatbread made of chickpea flour, resembling cornbread but more coherent and less sweet. Faina is essentially Italy’s farinata, a very regional specialty found only in Genoa, the Cinque Terre and Ligurian coast. In Italy they eat it on its own, but in Buenos Aires the tradition is to get a slice of fugazza or fugazetta and top it with a slice of faina, cut to the same size, then eat the combination as a layered treat. One slice of each makes for a weighty concoction to appease all but the heartiest appetite, and it is as delicious as it is unique—definitely worth seeking out. For the full old school Buenos Aires experience, combine it with a glass of moscato, or sweet wine.
Where to Eat
There are half a dozen classic pizzerias devoted to this style in the Buenos Aires city centre, all of which offer a choice of buying slices at the counter and eating them standing up, or sitting down and enjoying waiter service. These are the three best:
Guerrin, 54 11/4371 8141, Avda Corrientes 1368
The most famous.
Las Cuartetas, 54 11/4326 0171, Avda Corrientes 838
Guerrin’s rival, just a few blocks away.
El Cuartito, 54 11/4816-1758, Talcahuano 937
On the edge of Recoleta, and the closest to Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. El Cuartito conveys more of a neighbourhood feeling but is just as famous as the other two, and the one a local Porteño family is most likely go to for dinner. Its walls are a shrine to soccer and boxing, covered with posters from the 1980s, but the pizza tradition is from 1934, the year it opened.
The fugazza, fugazetta and faina at each place are nearly identical to those of the others—and probably unlike anything you have ever tried.